By Hadi Fornaji.
Tunis, 20 July 2017:
A delegation of tribal leaders from the east of the country has arrived in Tarhouna to take part in talks with counterparts from the south and the east, which according to officials in the town is aimed at bringing about national reconciliation between all Libyan tribes.
The delegation arrived yesterday and the talks are due to continue for a number of days.
However, according to reliable tribal sources from the south, the encounter is the result of an initiative by Khalifa Hafter. It follows his meeting with a large gathering of eastern tribal representatives just after Eid at which he urged them to meet with others from the west and south. During the meeting he said that he wanted to enter Tripoli without bloodshed.
“It’s a move to develop ties with Bani Walid and Tahouna on Hafter’s behalf, a southern activist said, claiming that following the meeting at the end of June, one of the tribal leaders close to Hafter, Bilaeed Al-Sheikhi, took the initiative to develop links with tribes in the south and west.
The eastern tribal leaders had flown to Zintan, the activist explained, and from there first gone to Bani Walid and then Tarhouna.
It is not yet clear how successful the initiative will be.
A significant proportion of the population in Bani Walid remains sympathetic to the former Qaddafi regime, but is also seen as open to working with Hafter and the Libyan National Army. There is similar sympathy for the Qaddafi era in Tarhouna. However, there is also a well-armed local militia presence, in the form of the Kani Brigade and forces under Salah Marghani, which is Islamist and sees Hafter as their arch-enemy.